Colombo, Sri Lanka (BBN) – Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Atiur Rahman has urged Sri Lankan investors to invest in Bangladesh for mutual economic benefits of the two countries.
“Bangladesh’s policy stance towards inward foreign investments is very liberal. All industrial sectors in Bangladesh excepting arms/ammunitions, forestry, nuclear energy, minting and security printing are open for local and foreign private sector investment; the foreign investments can be as joint ventures with local investors or wholly foreign owned entities,” Dr. Rahman said while making a presentation on “Bangladesh: Macroeconomic Environment and Investment Opportunities” at a local hotel in the capital on Tuesday evening.
The discussion on Bangladesh-Sri Lanka bilateral trade and investments was organized on the sidelines of a multilateral SAARCFINANCE meeting event.
The SAARCFINANCE was formed in October 1998 as a network of central bank governors and finance secretaries of the SAARC region that groups Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
It is now working to promote cooperation and research, training and exchange of ideas and information on economic and financial issues among its member countries.
The central bank chief also said Bangladesh’s growing pool of low cost tech savvy youthful educated workforce, and her welcoming liberal policy stance for inward foreign investment is attracting widespread investor interest, from East Asia, South Asia, Middle East and the western advanced economies.
“Scarcity of serviced industrial zones, a major hindrance in materializing these investor interests, is now being addressed by the authorities with high priority,” he noted.
The BB governor said post tax profits/dividends/ disinvestment proceeds of the non-resident owned investments are freely repatriable abroad. “Foreign owned businesses can access local financial markets for local currency financing, and they can also borrow abroad in the same manner as for their locally owned counterparts.”
Bilateral trade volume between the two countries has more than doubled over the past four years both in exports and imports; 45 Sri Lankan companies have a recorded foreign direct investment (FDI) volume totaling around US$300 million in Bangladesh, and around 15000 Sri Lankan expatriates are employed in various trading and manufacturing businesses in Bangladesh, according to the official data.
“Big ticket infrastructure investments are a priority for Bangladesh; but smaller sized FDI in IT enabled services industries and sustainability enhancing ‘green’ projects in the real sector may perhaps also be particularly suitable for innovative Sri Lankan investors,” the BB governor suggested.
He also said manufacturer-exporters from Sri Lanka may find setting up production units in Bangladesh useful for availing the preferential market access still available to Bangladesh as an less development country (LDC).
In the financial sector, the central bank of Bangladesh will be prepared to consider licensing of branches or subsidiaries of Sri Lankan banks and financial institutions, subject to their bringing in newer, less developed dimensions in our financial markets, like private equity and venture capital financing, issuance and trading in mortgage backed securities, secondary trading in corporate debts and so forth, according to the BB governor.
Among others, Jegan Durairatnam, managing director and chief executive officer of the Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC and FM Borhan Uddin, acting Bangladesh high commissioner to Sri Lanka also spoke on the occasion.
BBN/SSR/AD-22July14-9:27 pm (BST)